Parallel IO for Simulation Based Visual Effects and Light Field Based Virtual Reality Productions

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Thursday, September 14, 2017
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In the past, feature film productions have always motivated major jumps in technology to achieve the film maker’s artistic visions. This has been the case from movies such as the original King Kong, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Avatar. For the past 30 years, feature films have attempted to bring the audience into the
theatres via advancements such as color, surround sound, 3D, and more recently multiple screens in a single theatre via Barco’s Escape. Today there is a great excitement in increasing the immersion of virtual reality productions using real-time computer generated content, offline rendered content, captured content, and their combinations.

Volumetric light fields, and cameras which directly support them, such as the Lytro Cinema and Immerge, explicitly enable the computation of depth information, allowing one to view a scene from a variety of different viewpoints and directions. As an added benefit, depth information can be utilized in a separate compositing process to allow the proper integration of captured live action video with CG imagery. A major impediment during content creation and editing of these productions is the dramatically increased storage requirements due to storage of the light field data and the aggregate camera video streams.
ColossusTM and EnthalpyTM are visual effects tools developed by Aclectic for the visual simulation and light field rendering of smoke, fire, water, etc. These tools are being designed to leverage Aclectic’s parallel IO efforts.

To explore the performance of our solution, Aclectic has built a “systems-oriented” performance analysis, measurement and visualization tool we call InterScopiXTM. Our motivation is to systematically explore the performance implications of the various components of our solution against an application baseline. We have been implementing our solution
on an Intel cluster comprising Intel Xeon CPUs, Xeon Phi Knights Landing CPUs, 3D XPoint / 3D NAND based NVMe SSDs and an Omni-Path interconnect.

This presentation will overview our test cluster, emphasizing 3D XPoint / 3D NAND based NVMe SSDs and the Omni-Path interconnect. Next we will discuss workflows for Aclectic’s use case of simulation based visual effects and light fields. A test shot made using an instrumented version of Aclectic’s ColossusTM and EnthalpyTM tools will be demonstrated. Aclectic’s InterScopiXTM tool will be used to illustrate our performance. Throughout this presentation, the rationale, implementation experience, and performance of our parallel IO efforts will be illustrated.